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Jace, Basilissa

Video Games: Mystery Box Character Creation

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I think it should come to no surprise to anyone in regards to my flightly gaming schedule that me having nearly finished the Thrawn Trilogy over the last few weeks caused me to reinstall Empire at War with the Thrawn's Revenge mod.

There are a few oddities, but insofar it seems to already be a very polished game. The unit variety seems fairly focused (as opposed to many mods that drown you in ships and vehicles just for the sake of having them) and battles are very intense... and hard! Damn hard, even! I'm playing as the New Republic in one of the very small scenerios with just about 30 planets and two Imperial Remnant factions because always have the most intense gameplay, unlike those games where you have essentially infinite money and can throw unlimited Star Destroyers into every direction. There is also the oddity of the era progression system, it took me a while to figure out that new technologies are only unlocked once an Imperial hero gets killed and you have to deal with their successor. That's... very interesting, but also a bit weird. In fact I'm myself ridiculously cautious and keep my heroes as far away from the front lines as possible because all deaths are final, while at the same time I am stumped just how ridiculously many heroes the Imperials got. I'm pretty sure I already killed a dozen of them or so...

Interestingly, just like always with these kinds of games, it is not the battles where you steamroll an unprepared enemy that are the most fun. Instead it's the desperate last stands where you have to scramble everything lieing around to take down as many foes as possible. My very last battle was for this reason extremely fun:

It's the orbit around Dantooine as I am getting attacked by a fleet of the "Pentastar Alignment". They brought a Super Star Destroyer plus entourage, so the battle was essentially pointless as I had only two heavy frigates, an unarmed drydock, an unarmed trade station, a Golan I station and the accompanying six X-Wing and four Y-Wing squadrons. My strategy with that little was essentially just to hide my frigates behind the Golan I and pull out as soon as retreat was possible. Unfortunately I got a message that our escape vector was being jammed for 4 minutes, meaning I had to wait for the Imperials to come and hold my ground until then...

... but much to my surprise I only had to fend off a few waves of TIEs that got quickly dispatched by my X-Wings. I wondered where the Imperials got stuck, so I went out and scrolled across the map towards them...

... and the first thing I saw was a Star Destroyer, set bright ablaze and limping away from the battlefield.

What the hell was happening? My first thought was that the Imperials brought already damaged ships, which doesn't make much sense, but a quick look at the minimap showed a colorful mosaic of red and purple dots with white flashes in between them, marking explosions. I scrolled further towards them and saw that a second Imperial Remnant fleet had jumped behind the Pentastar fleet and engaged them in combat. Their battle line was a mess, confused cruisers buzzing around everywhere, the Super Star Destroyer had turned around to face that much bigger threat than me and nobody really paid much attention to my little space station. Except one.

Completely oblivious to this battle a lone Star Destroyer, the "Dynamic", a hero ship commanded by a certain Elta Besk, was still beelining towards my station with its TIE swarms around it. I looked at my ships and gritted my teeth at the opportunity. Change of plan! We can do this! I let my frigates come around the Golan I and scrambled my Y-Wings for an attack run under the screen of my X-Wings. The Dynamic fought viciously, especially when stray cruisers from its entourage joined its battle. I lost my space station and one of my frigates, but the other one, the most expensive Mon Calamari design of that size, held its ground. As the Dynamics forward batteries were all gone, it turned around and tried to flee. At that time a second Star Destroyer had shown up and wedged itself between my frigate and the broken Star Destroyer to shield it from further attack. Unfortunately it had noting to shield it from my Y-Wings which viciously kept at their tail, exploding one hardpoint after another while the shields of my last frigate were failingand it was starting to take severe damage as well. But then the Dynamic exploded and I immediately made a run for it, saving my last frigate as the rest of the Imperial fleet came bearing down on it.

Admittedly, that was the one time where these random "raid" events actually played in my favor. Before that I got jumped myself two times as I was attacking a planet and got my fleet shredded either by Star Destroyers or Hapans just as I left hyperspace, much to my frustration. I'm still not sure whether I like this event... especially given how damn hard the game already is. I have exactly one capital ship shipyard and conquered a second later on, in the entire four hours I managed to scrounge together enough money to build one Mon Calamari Star Cruiser and yet the Imperials keep drowning me in Star Destroyers and hero Star Destroyers (and now this first Super Star Destroyer). I'm barely making a progress due to the constant attacks and my finances barely allowing me to recover from my losses. Shouldn't the New Republic also get some Star Destroyers? What with being the new government and all...

Edited by Toth

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Finished The Last of Us Pt II. I liked it. Decent 7/10 for me. Flawed but with some real brilliance. A game that makes me angry for the right reasons is better than a game that doesn't make you feel anything at all. But the game also made me angry for the wrong reasons at times.

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I have to conclude that 2d isn't for me, Hollow Knight bored me and after beating 3 bosses in Cuphead I felt absolutely nothing. Shame, because the latter game has an aesthetic that I really love. Oh well, waiting until Cyberpunk.

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I'm confused how bad I am at Empire at War. Did I only play it on easy back then? I can barely do shit in my New Republic playthrough. I'm at week 40 now. The first ten weeks went fairly well, with me taking two planets from the Imperial Remnant, but then I got pushed into the defensive ever since. I looked at my savegame history since I'm saving every time I hear the "enemy fleet approaches" message. The Imperials are attacking roughly every two minutes on average. At first I thought if I take out as many Star Destroyers as possible they will eventually run out of them. Unfortunately everytime I started to think they will because they resorted to an attack with only cruisers for once, the next attack will be with something bigger. I constructed a forward base at Ord Trasi to construct capital ships, which only caused the Empire to come bearing down of it with two Secutor Class Star Destroyers that are somehow twice the size of an ISDII as well as two more ISDs. I barely managed to fend those off (and in doing so learned that even if you save your shipyard, all queued up construction projects will still be cancelled without refund, so I threw about 26000 credits into the ether...), I then got attacked elsewhere by a fleet headed by the Executor class Super Star Destroyer of Ardus Kaine. After it roamed a bit wreaking havoc above my worlds, it was caught by my shiny new main fleet construced at Ord Trasi... that managed to destroy the entire entourage of the SSD without trouble, but then got utterly wrecked in its entirety by it, because it has simply too damn much firepower for me to handle in any way. Thankfully after humiliating me like this Kaine turned his attention back to massacring the shit out of the Imperial Remnant.

I looked up some guides then, like you do nowadays... and realized after a bit of reading that I'm using the New Republic Navy totally wrong. My mistake essentially boils down to the fact that I'm trying to play them like the Empire when they are currently still more or less just the Rebel Alliance with a new government sticker attached to it. Guess that happens when you barely ever played something other than the Empire... In any case, the New Republic in this early era has really expensive and really shitty capital ships and yet my strategy was trying to fight the Imperials on their strengths by trying to pount Star Destroyers with my MC80 and MC80b starcruisers. When in actuality the New Republic's main strength is having the best fighters and bombers by far, so my starcruisers' job should be shielding a ragtag fleet of dirt cheap carrier ships that keep drowning the enemy in fighters. By replacing lost frigates I had at the beginning with bigger cruisers I essentially pulled my teeth (and I did actually wondered at times why I had so few fighters in the air even though I built ships with bigger hangars...).

So after the whole SSD disaster and hanging onto my planets only because I won the ground battles, I started ordering dirt cheap Quasar freighters on all my worlds and in no time at all had a fleet together for an attack that I really needed to get my morale back: Wrecking the Imperial shipyards at Ord Mantell. When I arrived, they had a truly massive armada there of about a dozen Acclamator and Victory II cruisers, but nothing too heavy. Perfect conditions for me to try out my new strategy with my new carriers shielded by my leftover cruisers. Despite the heavy resistance, I lost only one cruiser, so I take this as a success! Still dreading any kind of confrontation with their damn SSD... I need a whole lot more carriers for that... and also a whole lot more cruisers to take its pounding in their stead.

Edited by Toth

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2 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Finished The Last of Us Pt II. I liked it. Decent 7/10 for me. Flawed but with some real brilliance. A game that makes me angry for the right reasons is better than a game that doesn't make you feel anything at all. But the game also made me angry for the wrong reasons at times.

I think this is pretty much where I landed.

A few thoughts:

Spoiler

I had no real issues with the Abby character like I know some others did - she was the only character that I actually felt had a narrative arc that showed growth, nuance and complication. What I did have issues is the way they told the Abby story and didn't interweave it into the Ellie story. By separating the play by many hours from each other, there was a lack of narrative cohesion. If they had done Seattle Day 1 Ellie and then Seattle Day 1 Abby where we start to see them converge (Abby doing X, Ellie hearing about it through her confrontations and tracking her down - almost like a cat and mouse), I would have been all for it. But having Ellie's entire story, with Abby shooting Jesse in the face and then forcing us to play Abby for ~15 hours after we already hate her just seemed poorly designed.

In addition, I would have liked to see Ellie get a bit more in the middle of the major war that was going on rather than a few one off confrontations. It would have brought more depth to her storyline, forced her to make more decisions and not be so one note. Speaking of the war, pretty lackluster (see Jace's ranting on this in previous threads).

At the end of the day, I sympathized with Abby infinitely more than Ellie which I think the game was trying to do, but it was mostly due to Ellie's really dumb decisions, lack of growth and single mindedness than the character itself. Side note though, having to play Abby when fighting Ellie was a terrible narrative decision. You spend an entire game with Ellie, spend 15 hours up front with her and then after 10 hours, you're expected to fight her as a character that has already killed Joel with a golf club and shot Jesse in the face? No thanks.

All that being said, the game was gorgeous, it had some amazing set pieces and was intense as fuck more so than not. Definitely worth playing but with the narrative issues the way they were for me, I doubt I'll play it again unlike the first one.

 

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20 minutes ago, Mexal said:

I think this is pretty much where I landed.

A few thoughts:

  Reveal hidden contents

I had no real issues with the Abby character like I know some others did - she was the only character that I actually felt had a narrative arc that showed growth, nuance and complication. What I did have issues is the way they told the Abby story and didn't interweave it into the Ellie story. By separating the play by many hours from each other, there was a lack of narrative cohesion. If they had done Seattle Day 1 Ellie and then Seattle Day 1 Abby where we start to see them converge (Abby doing X, Ellie hearing about it through her confrontations and tracking her down - almost like a cat and mouse), I would have been all for it. But having Ellie's entire story, with Abby shooting Jesse in the face and then forcing us to play Abby for ~15 hours after we already hate her just seemed poorly designed.

In addition, I would have liked to see Ellie get a bit more in the middle of the major war that was going on rather than a few one off confrontations. It would have brought more depth to her storyline, forced her to make more decisions and not be so one note. Speaking of the war, pretty lackluster (see Jace's ranting on this in previous threads).

At the end of the day, I sympathized with Abby infinitely more than Ellie which I think the game was trying to do, but it was mostly due to Ellie's really dumb decisions, lack of growth and single mindedness than the character itself. Side note though, having to play Abby when fighting Ellie was a terrible narrative decision. You spend an entire game with Ellie, spend 15 hours up front with her and then after 10 hours, you're expected to fight her as a character that has already killed Joel with a golf club and shot Jesse in the face? No thanks.

All that being said, the game was gorgeous, it had some amazing set pieces and was intense as fuck more so than not. Definitely worth playing but with the narrative issues the way they were for me, I doubt I'll play it again unlike the first one.

 

Spoiler

The characters were fine for me, and I thought the structure worked too - leaving the Abby section to the end of Ellie's bit helped keep you on side with Ellie's revenge mission.

My big problem was the number of idiotic things the characters did to progress the story- Abby, for instance, spends 4-5 years searching for the person who killed her father, finally tracks him down and then... leaves fucking survivors! Abby is entirely responsible for all of her mates dying. Just colossally dumb.

And that's not the only time stuff like that happens either - the first time Ellie is captured, the dudes want to spend time getting to know her, despite every single encounter you witness between strangers ending with one group of horrible fuckers killing the other. So, yeah, they bizarrely decide to keep Ellie alive for a bit, and even after Dina has shot one of them and fallen to the floor, the remaining dude decides to put his gun away and have a dance with her, to give you plenty of time to murder him. Stuff like that ruins the game completely for me.

Another smaller issue I had was with the Scars cult - It's only been 25 years since the collapse of society, how gullible are this bunch that they fell in thrall to some random L Ron Hubbard lady so quickly? I guess it's a nice way to differentiate between groups of people (although, yet again, pretty much everyone is horrible.)

And then you have the slavers near the end, which all seems pretty pointless. They could have just asked people to join the community rather than capturing them and using a ton of people to guard them and deal with escape attempts and stuff, but that would be far to easy.

And why were they even fighting over Seattle? The place was utterly fucked. Move somewhere quieter for fuck's sake. The only sensible people in the story are the ones at Joel and Ellie's settlement.

 

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PS5 games won't work with PS4 controller, apparently. Kind of makes sense, but also kind of sucks. 

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After some agonising, I decided to upgrade to an nVidia 2060 graphics card after it got some pretty hefty discounts online. I wasn't going to bother, but seeing what Microsoft Flight SimulatorHorizon Zero Dawn and Cyberpunk 2077 look like with everything turned up to the max and ray tracing turned on (even at just normal HD) was enough to make me plump for it.

Edited by Werthead

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2 hours ago, Kalbear said:

PS5 games won't work with PS4 controller, apparently. Kind of makes sense, but also kind of sucks. 

With the complete change in the structure of the controller, I can understand.  Really, its just MS that seems to be keeping controller compatibility from one generation to the next.  DualShock2 didn't work with PS3 and DualShock 3 didn't work with PS4.  So yeah, the DualSense being required does make sense.

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I've softened a little bit towards Othercide. The game definitely lacks content for its price point. But it's not quite as grindy as I worried, and there is something really satisfying about beating its bosses.

I finished Yoku's Island Express on gamepass. Fun little game. Next up, Children of Mortia.

And I'm playing SWTOR still. It would be better as a single player game, but I miss old Bioware writing so badly; and this has a lot of it.

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21 hours ago, Mexal said:

I think this is pretty much where I landed.

A few thoughts:

  Hide contents

I had no real issues with the Abby character like I know some others did - she was the only character that I actually felt had a narrative arc that showed growth, nuance and complication. What I did have issues is the way they told the Abby story and didn't interweave it into the Ellie story. By separating the play by many hours from each other, there was a lack of narrative cohesion. If they had done Seattle Day 1 Ellie and then Seattle Day 1 Abby where we start to see them converge (Abby doing X, Ellie hearing about it through her confrontations and tracking her down - almost like a cat and mouse), I would have been all for it. But having Ellie's entire story, with Abby shooting Jesse in the face and then forcing us to play Abby for ~15 hours after we already hate her just seemed poorly designed.

In addition, I would have liked to see Ellie get a bit more in the middle of the major war that was going on rather than a few one off confrontations. It would have brought more depth to her storyline, forced her to make more decisions and not be so one note. Speaking of the war, pretty lackluster (see Jace's ranting on this in previous threads).

At the end of the day, I sympathized with Abby infinitely more than Ellie which I think the game was trying to do, but it was mostly due to Ellie's really dumb decisions, lack of growth and single mindedness than the character itself. Side note though, having to play Abby when fighting Ellie was a terrible narrative decision. You spend an entire game with Ellie, spend 15 hours up front with her and then after 10 hours, you're expected to fight her as a character that has already killed Joel with a golf club and shot Jesse in the face? No thanks.

All that being said, the game was gorgeous, it had some amazing set pieces and was intense as fuck more so than not. Definitely worth playing but with the narrative issues the way they were for me, I doubt I'll play it again unlike the first one.

 

 

20 hours ago, Soylent Brown said:
  Hide contents

The characters were fine for me, and I thought the structure worked too - leaving the Abby section to the end of Ellie's bit helped keep you on side with Ellie's revenge mission.

My big problem was the number of idiotic things the characters did to progress the story- Abby, for instance, spends 4-5 years searching for the person who killed her father, finally tracks him down and then... leaves fucking survivors! Abby is entirely responsible for all of her mates dying. Just colossally dumb.

And that's not the only time stuff like that happens either - the first time Ellie is captured, the dudes want to spend time getting to know her, despite every single encounter you witness between strangers ending with one group of horrible fuckers killing the other. So, yeah, they bizarrely decide to keep Ellie alive for a bit, and even after Dina has shot one of them and fallen to the floor, the remaining dude decides to put his gun away and have a dance with her, to give you plenty of time to murder him. Stuff like that ruins the game completely for me.

Another smaller issue I had was with the Scars cult - It's only been 25 years since the collapse of society, how gullible are this bunch that they fell in thrall to some random L Ron Hubbard lady so quickly? I guess it's a nice way to differentiate between groups of people (although, yet again, pretty much everyone is horrible.)

And then you have the slavers near the end, which all seems pretty pointless. They could have just asked people to join the community rather than capturing them and using a ton of people to guard them and deal with escape attempts and stuff, but that would be far to easy.

And why were they even fighting over Seattle? The place was utterly fucked. Move somewhere quieter for fuck's sake. The only sensible people in the story are the ones at Joel and Ellie's settlement.

 

Do we still have to spoiler tag? I guess it it still a pretty recent game.

Spoiler

Lot's of people are going to want to follow a charismatic leader, especially in an apocalyptic dystopia. 25 years is plenty of time to get a cult going. Listening to Lev and reading some of the notes it seems like the Scars were not a violently fanatical bunch until after Isaac murdered the prophet lady. Cults go one of two ways when the head gets cut off: they fracture and disappear or they become crazy. I thought it was great how Lev remained loyal to the prophet while being condemned and marked for death by all of its members, and that Lev was Abby's conscience, pulling her back from becoming a villain for reals. What I found maddening was the reason Lev buggered off back there as the contrivance for getting Abby away from the Aquarium. She knew her mother would reject her.

I was annoyed at playing as Abby in the prologue that was just telegraphing that we would be back playing as her at some point. And that she would be the one to throw the spark that lit up Ellie's drive for revenge. Then playing as Abby just bloated the game too much, her sequence should have been half as long or less. Then I would have been not so exasperated at having to play the California section.

I didn't like having to beat up Ellie as Abby, though I don't object to the decision to have me do it. I did like being forced to try to kill Abby against my will. Though I had forgiven Abby the moment I knew it was her Dad that Joel killed.

I explained away the fact they let Tommy and Ellie live by the fact that 1: They had no clue about the connection between Ellie and Joel, so she would not be seen as a real threat, or someone willing to travel hundreds of kilometres to seek revenge, 2: They assumed their group and home base would remain unknown to Tommy, and they were far away, 3: They saw themselves as morally superior, "we don't kill innocents, at least some of us don't". Certainly Mel and Owen were only on board with killing Joel and no one else, and Abby too. 4: they figured they would be safe in their community even if someone did come looking for them.

I was very confused with Abby's cis-genderedness. I originally thought she was trans, figuring they kind of did a weird job of creating a trans character in that she had feminised physical traits (breasts and no facial hair) but I was like, in a post-apocalyptic world it doesn't make sense they would have the ready supply of the drugs necessary to achieve it. So I was always thinking, maybe she is cis. Then in the sex scene she pretty automatically turned around, so that made me think she still had the male genitals so Owen only had one option. So I was like, OK so she definitely is trans then, but it still niggled at me. I guess they either figured that angry sex is always from behind, or they wanted to keep people like me unsure. And then with Lev I never considered he was anything other than male, and the head shaving thing confused me, and I did not catch that the Scars were calling him Lilly(?). So it wasn't until he explicitly mentioned it that I realised. And all I thought was "interesting two trans characters in the game, no wonder some people went ape of the trans representation." What really should have been a clue about Abby was the fact there was not a single Wolf who called her out as being a freak, when it's clear that in Jackson homophobia is still a thing, so transphobia would be too in this world, for sure.

Funny little connection between the first and second game.

Spoiler

In the final conversation between Ellie and Joel in game 1, Ellie holds two of her fingers while talking. Those are the two fingers that Abby bites off.

 

Edited by The Anti-Targ

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1 hour ago, The Anti-Targ said:

 

  Hide contents

I explained away the fact they let Tommy and Ellie live by the fact that 1: They had no clue about the connection between Ellie and Joel, so she would not be seen as a real threat, or someone willing to travel hundreds of kilometres to seek revenge, 2: They assumed their group and home base would remain unknown to Tommy, and they were far away, 3: They saw themselves as morally superior, "we don't kill innocents, at least some of us don't". Certainly Mel and Owen were only on board with killing Joel and no one else, and Abby too. 4: they figured they would be safe in their community even if someone did come looking for them.

 

 

 

Spoiler

But that's exactly what they themselves had just done: travelled across the country and found Joel. And they did that without any of them having witnessed the death of Abby's father or seen Joel before. They don't know the exact relationship between Ellie, Tommy and Joel, but it would be a fairly safe bet to expect they had some investment in one another. ND just wanted Ellie to be there to witness it, to have their Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon moment, and they apparently didn't care how dumb the story had to be to set it up.

And the whole moral thing is a load of nonsense too - every group we see in the game is a bunch of horrible murderous psychopaths. Abby has likely slaughtered hundreds of people, and throughout the game we see other members of their society murder strangers and 'trespassers' at the drop of a hat. They're not just defending themselves, they're killing anyone unfortunate enough to stumble across their path. They'd have to be completely delusional to think of themselves as the good guys.

 

Edited by Soylent Brown

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I feel like I made a massive advance in my New Republic campaign. At the very least I'm actually advancing now, having taken three planets from the Pentastar Alignment and building Ion cannons on them hoping I can catch that goddamn Executor. So far I had not much luck. I found it either defending a large shipyard or chasing my main fleet alongside a large fleet of Secutor Star Destroyers just after taking a planet. I did try to hold my ground once, but that went very badly. I managed to bring that Executor down to half its health thanks to my Y-Wing swarm, but by that time it already destroyed my entire fleet, its retinue was chasing my carriers and my last Y-Wings died through scratch damage. This thing is ridiculously tough and I still have nowhere near enough ships to face it.

But hey, at least I'm on the offensive at least. Just now I attacked another planet that was defended by three Secutors and an ISD and I shredded them without any losses whatsoever. It seems I've got a hang on playing rebel scum.

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On 8/3/2020 at 8:06 AM, Toth said:

I'm confused how bad I am at Empire at War. Did I only play it on easy back then? I can barely do shit in my New Republic playthrough. I'm at week 40 now.

I've not played Thrawn's Revenge, but a few months ago I tried a Clone Wars mod, and another Imperial era mod, I forget the name. They look cool, but at the same time there is too much. Modders tend to really raise the difficulty just by adding to the game's complexity and while the graphics are improved, I don't like how they expect people to have access to microscopes to see all the little ships in contrast with the backgrounds. Is Thrawn's Revenge like this?

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8 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

I've not played Thrawn's Revenge, but a few months ago I tried a Clone Wars mod, and another Imperial era mod, I forget the name. They look cool, but at the same time there is too much. Modders tend to really raise the difficulty just by adding to the game's complexity and while the graphics are improved, I don't like how they expect people to have access to microscopes to see all the little ships in contrast with the backgrounds. Is Thrawn's Revenge like this?

In space? Not really. Fighters are tiny and they have very small laser effects that are essentially invisible when you are zoomed out, but the squadrons are ridiculously huge, all other ships are huge and thankfully the focus still is on placing the big ones correctly while the fighters go off and do their thing. On the ground? Unfortunately yes... I tend to miss enemy infantry squadrons sneaking up on me when they aren't wearing bright stormtrooper armor... and sometimes I even miss those because they are so tiny and the landscape is so dark.

The difficulty is still there... there are some oddities. I noticed especially on the ground that units are very slows (especially infantry and tanks that aren't hovering), which makes escaping bombing runs damn near impossible. Scouting around with T2bs gets more important, but they are very endangered because damn near every unit got a rocket launcher and they are only good against infantry.

It's really the Super Star Destroyer that so far is the only thing really frustrating me, because I just... I've got nothing to defeat them. It feels it has like 200 hardpoints, all spewing ridiculous damage at you.

Edited by Toth

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